A man left in a coma after a suspected toxic leak from a Heineken-owned brewery in Croatia has died, the Dutch brewing giant said yesterday (21 March).

Zdravko Martinovic, 64, died after almost a month in a coma, which was allegedly induced after he breathed in carbon dioxide that is believed to have escaped from the Karlovacka Pivovara brewery in Croatia.

Martinovic, a retired brewery employee, was found unconscious close to the brewery and remained in a coma until 19 March when he passed away.

Croatian police had launched a probe into the alleged leak at the brewery upon the man falling ill and five employees remain under investigation.

Heineken conducted its own internal investigation and discovered that carbon dioxide had been was discharged into the sewerage system rather than into the atmosphere. The brewer said it had taken "immediate corrective action".

The brewer said: "We continue to work with the authorities to understand any relevance this may have to the investigation.  It is for that reason that we cannot exclude any possibilities relating to this."

Croatian authorities had ordered fermentation at the site to stop but Heineken said the brewery is now entering a "test phase" to get the green light to resume normal operations.

Heineken said it is "co-operating fully, transparently and thoroughly with all parties". The brewer added: "This is clearly a difficult time for the family and friends of Mr Martinovic and we have both publicly as well as directly to the family expressed our deepest sympathy for their loss."

The Karlovacka brewery is located east of the Croatian capital Zagreb.